By: Sarah Klingenstein, Patagonia Regional Times Editorial Team
Mayor Andrea Wood signed a new conservation easement on May 2 at the Patagonia Town Hall. The town, in cooperation with Borderlands Restoration Network (BRN), will ensure that 1,800 acres of land in the Sonoita Creek Wildlife Corridor is kept in its undeveloped state. Ron Pulliam, ecologist and board member of Borderlands Restoration Network and Wildlife Corridors, LLC and Matthew Jewell, Forest Legacy Program Specialist with the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management were instrumental in securing the grants that made this project possible.
Pulliam said, “We’ve been working on this conservation easement project with the Arizona Forestry Department for five years and it is coming to fruition. We will be able to pay off all our debt on the land that we have purchased over the years for the Wildlife Corridor. Arizona Game and Fish has identified this land as the most important corridor in the state to connect the Sierra Madre to the Sky Islands for species like jaguar, mountain lion, and black bear, and now this habitat and migratory pathway will be preserved.”
“It is also an area that is open and available for hikers, birders, and mountain bikers. We think it contributes well to the economy of the local area and the reputation of Patagonia as a nature-based tourism hub.”
Jewell pointed out that the project is the result of a collaborative effort involving federal, state and local government agencies working hand-in-hand with business and nonprofit partners to achieve a goal that will perpetually benefit both people and wildlife. "This project," he said "also includes access to the new section of the Arizona Trail accessible from Casa Blanca Canyon Road."
Locals and visitors are invited to enjoy the Smith Canyon Loop Trail on the property, which features rolling terrain, views of the Santa Rita and Patagonia Mountains, and a recently completed series of interpretive signs made possible through a generous financial gift from an anonymous donor.
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